COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The body of a missing 14-month-old Maryland boy was found in an Ohio creek Wednesday as his mother was ordered held on $150,000 bond in her first court appearance.
Searchers found the body of Cameron Beckford in Big Walnut Creek on Wednesday morning, said Sgt. Rich Weiner, a Columbus police spokesman.
Dainesha Stevens is charged with endangering children and tampering with evidence and was held on $75,000 bond on each count. Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Michael Brandt also ordered her not to have any contact with children.
Stevens, 24, failed to protect the child “by allowing an individual to violently spank him numerous times on several occasions,” according to a police charging document filed Wednesday.
The discipline removed several layers of skin and caused the boy’s buttocks to bleed, the document said.
Stevens also allowed the boy to be removed from the place he was assaulted “to impair the investigation of a missing/homicide investigation” and concealed the boy’s whereabouts, the document said.
The assault happened between Dec. 21 and Dec. 23, according to the document.
Stevens made up a story about leaving the boy on a porch and says that was her way of asking for help, said her attorney, Mark Collins.
“There’s reasons why she said what she said, but she’s trying to do the right thing and that’s what she did by helping yesterday and today,” Collins said Wednesday after the brief court hearing. She cooperated with police in their search, he said.
Collins said Stevens came to the Columbus area Dec. 15 after calling police in Maryland for help, then receiving a bus pass from the local protective services agency.
Frederick police spokesman Lt. Clark Pennington said a domestic dispute preceded Stevens’ departure.
“I know that they had, like, an argument on the 14th and that’s why we think she went to Ohio on the 15th,” he said. Pennington said he didn’t have immediate access to details about the dispute.
Frederick police previously said the father of the two children called police on Sunday and reported that their mother had taken them to an unknown location in Columbus in mid-December. Based on the father’s concerns, missing-child reports were issued.
Collins said he didn’t know the details of what happened in Maryland.
Stevens was staying with a male friend she knew as a teenager in Maryland, Collins said. That man is being held on misdemeanor warrants unrelated to the toddler’s disappearance.
“It’s our goal to keep that man in custody pending further investigation by the police,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.
Columbus officers searched Tuesday near a creek with a dive team and helicopter after Stevens admitted she and a male acquaintance left the boy, Cameron Beckford, on Friday night because they could no longer care for him. The area being searched on the city’s far east side is more than two miles from the home where Stevens said she left the child.
Stevens pointed police to the creek, Collins confirmed Wednesday without providing details.
Cameron’s 6-year-old sister, Cheyenne, was turned over to Franklin County Children Services.
Police said Stevens had legal custody of both children.
A missing-child alert said the toddler was wearing a puffy black coat, gray pants, black and red boots and a gray elephant hat. Police say he’s black with brown eyes and a Mohawk hairstyle.
A woman who answered the phone at a house believed to be the father’s residence said he wasn’t home. She said Beckford was her son. She apologetically declined to answer more questions and would not give her name. She also refused to open the door to the apartment, located in a densely populated neighborhood in the city, about 40 miles west of Baltimore.
Associated Press Writer David Dishneau in Hagerstown, Maryland contributed to this report.